I collect people. There it is, the truth in four words or less. Some folks pick up stamps, comic books, or coins—not me, people are my bag. Zac, who is an Apple Genius by day, aspiring writer by night, and a gifted sounding board in between told me so. He sees details with acuity—the ones even genuine observers miss. And Zac would know. I collected him years ago and I’m so glad I did—he’s undoubtedly one of my most important friends. Irreplaceable.
So, despite the absence of almost-famous pancakes and marriage-proposal-good buttermilk syrup, I’ve been chatting with my peeps about some of their favorite reads. I selected carefully from my crowd: one an English professor who loves the living as much as the dead, one a Renaissance man who codes despite being a true aesthete at heart, and one who is brainy and brilliant like Rae in giving the best books. I feel good about this because I’m a believer that friends don’t let friends give bad books. And you are fast becoming my friends—ne’er a collection too big.
Zac, beautiful soul, loves Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. He said, “it was the kind of book that I read slowly because I didn’t want it to be over. The prose was evocative (which is such a vague adjective), but the words created an amazing sense of character and landscape and how the two related. It was the kind of book that reminded me why I care about literature. The intimate power that a book can have to move you as an individual.” Time to read All the Pretty Horses if you haven’t.
I have known Stacy since college. She and I got to know each other better with years. Stacy exudes a loveliness that is undeniable. I feel energized whenever I’m around her. She listens long. And invariably, she always responds with what I need to hear. I’m not sure how she does that. She’s taught literature classes for years. The Professor’s House is a staple for her. Cather’s reverence for landscape, especially of the West, is superb. Cather’s writing is like light. A definite must read even if you’re not in Dr. Day’s classroom!
Ted worked on a PhD in British Literature at Auburn University. He’s a guru when it comes to books, code, rock-n-roll and kindness. Bless him for it. Ted is easily one of the most humble smart guys I’ve ever met. The fact that he never misses an allusion is just icing. Ted couldn’t be limited to one favorite. Admittedly, it’s unfair to ask of a reader to choose just one. So Ted’s top three are House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, The Brothers Karamozov (also one of Zac’s favorites) by Dostoevsky, and Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. He loves these books because they all explain life’s messiness to him; or at least attempt to hold it up to a magnifying glass. It will get you out of the binary world—help you to see so many shades of gray—on a socioeconomic level (Mirth), a philosophical/religious level (Brothers), and then there’s the interpersonal level (Crossing). These reads will take your breath away.
I collected Eliane nearly two decades ago. She’s one of my best finds. Ever. Currently, she lives in Denmark. That fact makes me curse miles and loathe distance. But she’s never far away. Eliane’s a voracious reader, which accounts for some of her brilliance. One of her constants is also a favorite of mine: A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. Eliane reads this novella every year. She said, “I love its simplicity, and its descriptions of nature and family relationships. It is beautiful.” A gorgeous read.